Bensouda drops Muthaura chaos trial
Posted Tuesday, March 12 2013 at 00:30
- In a notice to the Trial Chamber V, Ms Bensouda admitted that the evidence available “does not support the charges to the standard of proof, beyond a reasonable doubt, required at trial”
- Mr Henry Kosgey, who was a Cabinet minister in the Grand Coalition government also had his case dropped
- Ms Bensouda insisted that Monday’s withdrawal would affect only Mr Muthaura’s case
The Hague court on Monday dropped charges against former Public Service head Francis Muthaura, saying that key witnesses had either been killed, died or bribed or were too afraid to testify.
Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda told judges that she was unable to get witnesses to prove charges of crimes against humanity against Mr Muthaura.
Presiding Judge Ozaki wanted to know what the withdrawal of the charges against Mr Muthaura would mean for Mr Uhuru Kenyatta, who was charged alongside Mr Muthaura.
Mr Kenyatta was at the weekend declared winner of Monday’s presidential election.
But other cases against President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President-elect William Ruto and radio journalist Joshua arap Sang would proceed. She said the prosecution had new evidence against the President-elect.
She said her office had no choice but to drop the charges Mr Muthaura because most of the witnesses who would have supported the case had died, or been killed while others were too afraid to testify.
In addition, a key witness had been dropped after he recanted a crucial part of his evidence, and admitted that he had accepted bribes.
Mr Muthaura, who was in court at The Hague when the prosecution made the announcement smiled. He had maintained a studious silence throughout the proceedings.
“I wish to inform you that today I filed a notice to the judges to withdraw charges against Mr Francis Kirimi Muthaura.
‘‘I have done so after carefully considering all the evidence available to me at this time. It is my duty to proceed only when I believe that there is a reasonable prospect of conviction at trial. If not, then it is my responsibility as prosecutor to take the decision to withdraw the charges’’.
Ms Bensouda described her decision as “an exceptional” one.
“I did not take it lightly, but I believe it is the right thing to do,’’ she said.
She said her office had faced severe challenges in investigating Mr Muthaura.
The prosecutor also told the judges that Kenya had failed to provide her with important evidence and to facilitate access to critical witnesses.
In a notice to the Trial Chamber V, Ms Bensouda admitted that the evidence available “does not support the charges to the standard of proof, beyond a reasonable doubt, required at trial”.
“The prosecution, having considered the totality of all the evidence, is of the view, at this stage, that there is no reasonable prospect of a conviction in the case against Mr Muthaura at trial,” she said.
And it was Witness Number 4 who influenced the decision to drop the charges. According to Ms Bensouda, the witness had withdrawn earlier testimony that influenced pre-trial judges to confirm the case.